EU eases Sanctions against Syria
The European Union said it was temporarily easing sanctions on Syria to speed up aid deliveries to the country two weeks after the devastating earthquakes. Aid organizations no longer need to seek permission from EU member state governments before sending supplies and services to sanctioned individuals in Syria, the European Council said in a statement. The measure will last six months and was taken "in view of the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, exacerbated by the earthquakes".
The devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on February 6 killed over 42,000 people in Turkey and over 3,600 in Syria.
The EU has pointed out that it and its member states are the leading donors of humanitarian aid to conflict-torn Syria, having provided a total of 27.4 billion euros ( billion) since 2011 to that country and its neighbors such as Turkey, which have accepted refugees.
Following the earthquake, the EU provided €3.5 million for urgent humanitarian needs in Syria. Syria's government and related businesses are under EU sanctions because of Damascus's brutal crackdown, making European aid more difficult. The 2011 EU sanctions target 291 individuals and 70 entities with asset freezes and community travel bans.
The change, made on Thursday, means that "the EU has waived the need for humanitarian organizations to seek prior authorization from the national competent authorities of EU member states to carry out transfers or provide goods and services intended for humanitarian purposes to those included in the list of individuals and businesses," the statement said.
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday it was taking advantage of a pause in sanctions after the earthquake to move badly needed health supplies and equipment into war-torn Syria. But activists and aid workers in northwest Syria condemned the UN's slow response to the earthquake in rebel-held areas, contrasting it with humanitarian aid being flown in by planes to government-held airports.
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